If you’re anything like me, you’ll occasionally stumble into extended conversation with a random. It doesn’t happen quite as often as I’d like, but last week was one such instance.
I was checking out a guitar I’d found advertised on Gumtree. The seller and I talked at length about his many guitars. And his guitar collecting habit.
So when he asked me about my own guitar history, what I played and how often, it wasn’t just the obvious topic for small talk – there was a degree to which he wanted to sell his guitar to someone who would care for it, do it justice.
It’s a topic that comes up every now and then and I’m always a little ashamed to admit I’ve been playing for half my life. The truth is I’m not much good because I might pick it up twice a week but I’ll as easily not touch it for a couple of months.
To this he said: “You gotta get rid of the obstacles.”
Simply keeping it out of its case and putting it on a guitar stand within easy access can make all the difference, he said.
I knew he was right.
I also knew his advice applied to more than getting better at playing the guitar.
How much more might I achieve if I just got rid of some barriers?
Would I play more volleyball if I lived closer to Manly? Probably.
Would I write more often if I always carried my laptop with me? It’s likely.
Would I have bought a new guitar sooner if there’d been more guitar shops in my area? I reckon.
It works the other way, too.
Would I get out of bed earlier if I had to physically get up to turn my alarm off? For sure.
Would I snack less if I didn’t have chips and chocolate sitting around the house? I’ve definitely found it to be so.
Would I drive less if public transport was nearby and took me where I needed to go? I rarely used my car when I lived just four minutes from the station.
Convenience is key. Nothing new there – marketing departments have known this since forever; Apple got ahead because it understood this principle better than its competitors.
Shouldn’t we take the same approach in our own lives? Shouldn’t we make healthy habits convenient for ourselves, rather than let companies shape our habits by making their products convenient for us?
It’s easy to settle into a routine, become far less intentional about everything and feel like you don’t have the time, the capacity, to do all you want to do. It’s easy to feel stuck. We stop paying attention to the details – yet the key to change can be in a detail.
It’s logical to look for convenience and make decisions accordingly. If you look at the etymology of the word, it comes from a Latin word that means “meeting together, agreement, harmony”.
But I feel like convenience has been hijacked and we need to get some control back. Paradoxically I’d suggest we need to go out of our way to make good things convenient, and unhelpful things inconvenient.
I heeded the advice about the guitar. I popped it in the corner of my room, bought a stand for it. And in the week since, I’ve played it maybe five times. That’s significant progress for someone like me.
And y’know what? When I finish this post, I’m going to pick up my guitar.